Phobias are type of anxiety disorder, which tend to be genetically transferable. Some researches show that DNA includes some processes that may result in phobias inheritance from one generation to another. These processes include genetic changes that allow offspring to inherit characteristics of their parents. It is important to note that, not all characteristics that are learned and build up during someone’s lifetime, are genetically transferable. However, according to scientific studies, only genetically transferable characteristics are only transferred down the ancestral linage through chemical actions that happens in the DNA.
A research done at the University of Emory, School of medicine found in Atlanta, show that mice have ability of transferring learned information such traumatic experience to subsequent generation. The results of mice experiment has been used by scientist to explain why most people suffer seemingly irrational phobias and why are is this condition inherited from over generations.
For instance, a fear of arachnid (spiders, scorpions, etc) and defense mechanism associated with it may be inherited genetically from one generation to another. In fact, it has been confirmed that people from same ancestral linage get frightened when they encounter a spider. Dr. Brian Dias, lecturer department of psychiatry, Emory University, said that they have begun to study underappreciated influence ancestral behaviors and experience in their young one. It is clear that from their translational perspective, their results show that parents’ experience influence both structural and functional nervous development of their children even before they are born. In addition, this nervous development is transferred over generation. It is a fact that, such situations add to the etiology and potential inter-generational transmission of the risk for genetically transferable disorders, which include phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
A research, published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, show that mice trained to fear the cherry blossom’s smell using before allowing them to breed, produce offspring that show fearful responses to the cherry blossom’s smell even if they encounter it for the first time.
There are also many more examples that have been published to proof that some phobias are genetically transferable. For instance, further research show that the trained mice and its’ resulting offspring show structural changes in some areas of the brain, which is used to detect the smell. In fact, these changes are witnessed especially if the mice are furthered through artificial insemination.
Most DNA of the animals that have been experience some training also carry chemical changes on the genes, which are responsible for detecting the smell. This chemicals are referred as epigenetic methylation. This is a proof that acquired characteristics are somehow transferable from the brain into the genome, making it possible to be transferred over generations.
More researches are now being done to get more understanding on how the information are stored on the DNA and how they are changed. These research will also explore whether these effects are visible in humans’ genes. Professor Marcus Pembrey, Paediatric Geneticist of University Collage of London, said that researches that has been done provide compelling evidence that some characteristics acquired such as phobias are genetically transferable. He added that these researches is a real proof that constitutional fearfulness related to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorders are likely to be transferred down the linage.
Pr. Wolf Reik, who is a Lecturer Department of Epigenetics at Babraham Institute, Cambridge, informed researchers that it is now high time for the public-health researchers to take human genetically transferrable characteristics more seriously. If not, it will be very unlikely to understand the increase in some neuropsychiatric conditions, which results on some diseases such as obesity, metabolic disruption, and diabetes. Most of the results of researches that have already taken are encouraging since they suggest that some acquired characteristics are transferable in a number of animals such as rabbits, however, more studies should be perform before a conclusion made on whether to be true when it comes to human being is true or not.
It has also been proofed, in another study, that the ability of the mice to remember are affected by some immune systems’ factors that are presence in their mother’s milk. This was done in a study carried out by Dr. Miklos Toth, Weill cornell Medical collage’s lecture, who found that Chemokines found in the mother’s milk cause changes in the offspring’s brains, affecting them later in their life.